Weight Training vs. Cardio: Which One Wins in the Weight Loss War?
In the war on fat, there has been much debate about which type of exercise is best. Should you focus your efforts on cardio workouts that work up a sweat, or should you “feel the burn” lifting free weights or using weight machines? Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of both to see which one “wins” in the weight-loss war.
Muscle may weigh more than fat, but in actuality, the more muscle you have, the slimmer and healthier you will be. That’s because muscle burns fat and uses it as an energy source -- hence, more muscles, less fat. While aerobic activities can help burn excess calories, lean muscle mass gives your metabolism a significant daily boost even at rest; you’ll be burning off fat even while you’re sleeping. In, fact, for every pound of muscles that you have, you’ll burn up to 50 extra calories a day with no added effort.
You may not break as much of a sweat lifting weights as you would with aerobic exercise, but the long-term benefits make weight training a worthwhile addition to any weight loss program.
The thing that makes cardio exercise such a crucial component in weight loss is that it helps your body burn more calories, although it also is good for the improvement of cardiovascular conditioning -- meaning that it helps to strengthen your heart and improve blood flow and circulation. The number of calories that you burn with aerobic exercise varies depending on the duration, frequency, and intensity of the activity. One of the best ways to shed excess body fat is through steady aerobic exercise, such as walking, for more than 30 minutes four or more days of the week. If you can do that, you could double your rate of weight loss.
Any activity that gets the heart rate up for a sustained period of time is considered to be a cardio workout. Really, your options are practically endless: a walk around the mall counts, as does inline skating or swimming with your children. For more formal cardio workouts, consider a group class at a health club, such as step aerobics, cardio kickboxing, dance aerobics, or sports conditioning classes. Stationary aerobic machines, including treadmills, elliptical trainers, and recumbent bikes are excellent choices when the weather is less than ideal for outdoor activity.
For optimal weight loss, a combination of weight training and cardio exercise is your best bet. Your overall health will improve as well, making it a win-win situation that will keep you from becoming bored with your workouts!
But remember, before you start any exercise program (especially if you haven’t worked out formally for awhile) check with your doctor to make sure that you’re safe to pursue your chosen activities.